News

Cuba: Economy Tanking, Cuba Launches Some Long-Delayed Reforms

HAVANA, CUBA – With its airports closed to commercial flights and its economy tanking, Cuba has launched the first in a series of long-promised reforms meant to bolster the country’s struggling private sector.

The island’s thousands of restaurants, bed-and-breakfasts, auto mechanics and dozens of other types of private businesses have operated for years without the ability to import, export or buy supplies in wholesale markets.While the communist government began allowing widespread private enterprise a decade ago, it maintained a state monopoly on imports, exports and wholesale transactions.

As a result, the country’s roughly 613,000 private business owners have been forced to compete for scarce goods in Cuba’s understocked retail outlets or buy on the black market. That has limited the private sector’s growth and made entrepreneurs a constant target of criminal investigation.

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